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20 Sep, 2021 13:12

Russia’s Communists declare they won’t recognize result of online election in Moscow amid widespread claims of vote falsification

Russia’s Communists declare they won’t recognize result of online election in Moscow amid widespread claims of vote falsification

Russia’s Communist Party has revealed that it will refuse to recognize the votes of electronic voting in the single-mandate constituencies in Moscow, and will instead ask for an investigation, believing that votes were falsified.

From September 17-19, Russian citizens went to the polls to choose from 14 parties and other independent candidates vying for 450 seats in the country’s parliament. While half of the votes are allocated by proportional representation, the others are single-mandate districts, determined by the winner of a first-past-the-post vote.

Russia introduced electronic voting this year in select regions. Although all of the other areas using the technology reported their results shortly after the polls closed, Moscow's declaration was delayed. The Communists, along with some other opposition figures, believe that this time was used to rig the election.

According to Yuri Afonin, the first deputy chairman of the party’s central committee, his candidates “confidently won” parliamentary elections in Moscow but were robbed by the online portion of the election. Afonin believes that Moscow’s results are fake.

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The party is particularly bitter about certain Communist candidates that seemed certain to be winning. For example, in the city’s District 196, outspoken communist politician Valery Rashkin was leading by 1.35%, with just 0.41% of the votes left to be counted. Once all ballots were totaled, he ended up losing by a whopping 13.87%.

“They would have won if that notorious e-voting system had not been introduced. We do not recognize the e-voting system. In Moscow, this system has only started to come together now since morning, although in other regions, all the results were known last night,” Afonin said.

Party leader Gennady Zyuganov also decried the results, calling for experts to “investigate.”

“This is unacceptable, especially as it is done directly in Moscow as the capital of our state,” Zyuganov said, calling the online voting system “a hack job that could infect the whole country.”

The city’s officials have denied the party permission to protest the result, citing Covid-19 restrictions. One candidate, Mikhail Lebanon, however, said he would go through with the protest.

The Communists are not the only ones to suspect that the election was rigged. The team of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny also accused the authorities of foul play, declaring all the victories against their supported candidates as “falsification.” The team’s ‘Smart Voting’ operation had recommended that, in many regions, Navalny supporters choose to back the Communist candidate.

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There have also been other accusations of fraud and misconduct. Throughout the three days of voting, many videos shared online appeared to show voters and officials filling ballot boxes with multiple voting slips. According to Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova, “12 cases of ballot stuffing have been confirmed.”

However, according to Golos, an election monitor declared by the Russian Ministry of Justice as a ‘foreign agent’, there were thousands of violations, including threats against observers.

The authorities in Russia claim that there were no “serious violations” during the entire election.

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